Code Dependence (with Ted Rees)

The benefits of the air’s suggestive unbreathability include allusions to hope, prancing in reddish form atop the foothills.

As if air is breath is allusion is hope is red is form is foothills

Here’s a caption: If it could still be called a poem, the poem, leaning up against a tree. Bare, bereft of cotton insulation, between its fractured slats the grey of the road now visible. Deflated, almost. The poem’s skin hangs in puddles on the ground. A suitcase peeled open beside the poem on a patch of dirt lost amid the wash of grey. Its contents unzipped, exposed. Voyeur, you look inside. A bit of orange, perhaps it’s a shirt. Something, white, shiny, plastic. A deluge of blue usurps the edge. A point of contact with concrete. You pass this daily.

A quotidian of discard is ever and always ongoing: crushed Bubble Tape containers, weaves tumbling and intact, rot gut personals, treated compressed remnants of what was pine, bleach sprinkled fabric shreds, off-white or perhaps beige gallon tins rusted, fenders, faithful baggies, doll parts, as in I am big veins, their minutely detailed rummaging history.

Playing house, the small human chews, digits caress strange nylon manes and lips move in dialogic attempts at narrative, collected sorts of gutturally spittled tiny gesture.

But no: let’s just smoke it all right now and sloganeer on every wall:





Almost instant buffing, shallow threaded shoulder dewed & flexed amidst new sidewalk, heaps being cleared daily along the thoroughfares brazen with rumble, the off narrow of the gallery.

As if sidewalk is heap is thoroughfare is rubble is gallery

“how our languages are frothing,” you write in the text that is not this message. And how I imagine you is walking through the landscape, built and emergent. I also have been walking in a way less disciplined. A habit, or an obsession in varying states of decay. We caption these encounters: This is what an orgasm looks like. Here, though, for you, I will transcribe these accumulations.

Here’s a caption: Through the tear in the poem’s skin, peeled back to expose the curling, yellow beneath and peeping through like jaundiced petals, you see the poem’s slim ribs parted, structure rising to the surface of awareness—its process as yet invisible—the dark mouth gapes through. Oh well. You step inside. Into something unidentifiable. Some withered pink instance barely visible against the drought-choked backdrop of another day.

Almost instant.

Minutely detailed.

Replacing these words for other words, I come

to the conclusion that “This poem, like any poem, is mute.”

Or, as Susan Sontag writes in On Photography, “It talks

through the mouth of the text written beneath it.”

So then, is this what we’ve been seeking?

What is written beneath:

Or babbled, a shredded amalgam of forces slinking the sidewalk, phantoms huddled over dice games, bone rolling.

“What kind of place can an alley be?” Will commemorative plaques be placed when the rubble is cleared? I do not fear time, she sings. I listen and am lachrymose from uncertainty that I could ever say the same. Whatever withering doesn’t faze, but the slim ribs of architectural memory pierce and collapse the lungs that loathe but breathe still.

As if place is alley is plaques is rubble is time is uncertainty is the same is whatever withering is ribs is memory is lungs

It is not time, but the shepherds that guide it along towards a cleansed repertoire that spins kicks at my solar plexus. It is a violence that will always overshadow the repeated muggings of investment-minded honkies at 9th and Center.

There is difficulty in walking around with permanent resting thizz face, and the occasional wish for stunna shades dark enough to prevent witness is problematic.

For now, though: a siphon, more dog shit than grass, post-modern ticky-tacky,

oh burnt shells and jasmine,

oh ice cream Cutlass,

that Kirkham stench,

that grocery corporations lose millions of dollars worth of pilfered milk crates every year but          fuck ‘em

we need some place to sit and smoke and stroll from.

we need some place,

and we are seeking it at the margins.

we are seeking it in excess,

and we are seeking it in refusal.

In Usufruct, Thom Donovan and Rob Halpern re-imagine the poem as “a materialization of communications’ excess, a useless obstruction,” as “the waste of the system, or whatever refuses proper integration.”

“Around it,” they write, “we gather.”

Written collaboratively by Emji Spero and Ted Rees
Oakland, February 2013


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